Welcome to episode #87 of The PPC Show where we interview the best and brightest in paid marketing. This week we're joined by Emma Franks, Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing, to discuss Why PPC folks need Google Tag Manager and all the fun things you can set up and track with it.
Stay tuned as we walk through:
GTM for Basic Conversion Tracking (GA, AdWords, Bing, FB, etc)
GTM for Advanced Conversion Tracking
a. Click-triggered events (click to call, click to external website, etc)
b. Advanced page view stuff (element visibility, page view for x min, etc)
c. Super fancy Hero Conf stuffs (people starting a form, engaging with certain elements of page for audience segments, etc)
STRUGGLES with GTM (troubleshooting, techy stuff)
Listen to Episode
Show Notes and Transcript
- How to Build Advanced Google Analytics Audiences [Podcast]
- 29 Advanced Google Tag Manager Tips Every Marketer Should Know
- Google Tag Manager Triggers: What Are They & When to Use Them for Better Conversion Tracking
JD Prater: Emma, welcome to the PPC Show.
Emma Franks: Thanks, JD. Glad to be here.
JD Prater: Yeah. I'm definitely a fan of Emma's. For those that don't know, Emma and I used to work together at Hanapin Marketing. I just stole a little bit of your thunder there, Emma, but go ahead. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you're up to recently.
Emma Franks: Sure. As JD said, I work for Hanapin Marketing. True PPC "expert" here. JD, fun fact, was actually my first supervisor when I started at Hanapin almost three years ago now. We go back right to the beginning of my PPC career.
JD Prater: And you have come leaps and bounds from where you started. So yeah, that is very true. I used to manage Emma, or train Emma, whatever you want to call that. But she has far surpassed all my wildest expectations because today we brought her on to talk to us about Google Tag Manager, which is one of those things for PPC people. It could be daunting, it could be scary, it could be seen as super technical. The fact that Emma can come on and talk to us about it, after being in PPC for only three years, and I say only because it is only three years. She's mastered it, or at least gotten to a point where she is extremely comfortable moving and operating in and out of accounts for her clients.
JD Prater: Emma, let's talk about some Google Tag Manager.
Emma Franks: Let's do it.
JD Prater: Yeah, oh no. Go ahead.
Emma Franks: I was just gonna say, I feel super fortunate that I did get exposed to Google Tag Manager really early on in my PPC career. Right before my year mark, I was starting to take on clients, make that transition into account management. I had a really new client in that startup phase that was trying to figure out conversion tracking, and they had a really weird website, things going on. I just took it on me to explore Tag Manager and that has paid of in spades in the years that have passed. Really lucky just the way that things worked out.
JD Prater: Nice. Well let's jump into it.
JD Prater: Why should I, as someone that's in PPC, why do I need Google Tag Manager? Sell me on it.
Why do I need Google Tag Manager
Emma Franks: I would say if you haven't used Google Tag Manager before, you are missing out on a lot of great opportunities. It just makes us non-technical people really capable of doing cool technical things, specifically with conversion tracking, but really any kind of user behavior tracking. Things that you want to be able to collect data on with how people are interacting with your website, it makes it really user friendly. We'll get into more of the specifics of what you can do with Google Tag Manager.
Emma Franks: From the PPC manager standpoint, my favorite thing about Google Tag Manager is that it allows me to circumvent the need to work with web development teams to get my stuff prioritized in their long list of to-dos. If they just implement one piece of code one time, then I have the freedom to go in and do all of the crazy experiments that I want to do, and change things up every month if I want, and I don't have to wait for them to get back to me. Can have that immediate action.
From the PPC manager standpoint, my favorite thing about Google Tag Manager is that it allows me to circumvent the need to work with web development teams to get my stuff prioritized in their long list of to-dos.
JD Prater: Yeah. I'm with you on that one. That one's been a huge time saver as far as on our end, but it ends up happening. You're like, "Hey, I need to put this Facebook conversion tracking event on this page." And they're like, "Cool. Get to that in two weeks." And you're like, "No, but I need it right now." The great thing with GTM is now people like us can go in and copy that code. They give you the code, we can now go in, create a new tag, Facebook conversion event, drop in the code, and then you create that trigger on this page, or trigger on some other stuff. Emma's gonna give us some really cools stuff that you can create as far as triggers, here in a second. That's huge, not having to wait, but also being able to go in and implement it.
JD Prater: Emma, I'll give you some old man history here. By old man, I mean five years ago. So five years ago, we had to go in and take that. If you were working on a WordPress site, or something like that, you had to go in and inject that code into the page like source code. Now you can use GTM to go in and do that. Old school ways versus the new school ways, definitely a big fan of GTM.
Emma Franks: Yeah. Just like you said, it's not even just platforms that are integrated with GTM, you can actually create any kind of custom code and insert it into your website.
Emma Franks: I was just reading earlier this morning some really cool techy script type things that you can do with GTM that I'm like, "I think I might, maybe know what you're talking about here, but it also is way over my head." It's really a limitless opportunity there.
JD Prater: I know. Were you reading Simo's blog?
Emma Franks: It was on UpBuild.
JD Prater: Okay.
Emma Franks: It's like 29 things, it was a recap of a MozCon session.
JD Prater: Nice. You'll have to send it over and I'll put it in the show notes.
Emma Franks: Yeah I will.
JD Prater: You made also a really good point too, because I've been asked that question before too. This is Google Tag Manager and you're putting it on your website. You can use this outside of Google products, like what you were saying, Facebook, or Bing, or Pinterest. Whatever advertising conversion tag you're trying to put on, you can definitely do that.
JD Prater: Basic conversion tracking, any tips there that you have for us?
Tips for setting up conversion tracking
Emma Franks: My biggest tip ... Tip. More just encouragement I would say, I like to put all of my basic conversion tags through Tag Manager, even if it's really easy to get GA implemented on the website. Having it in Tag Manager is really nice. It makes it really easy to troubleshoot if something goes wrong. Also just the consolidation of having all your tags in one place, and you don't have to be checking a bunch of different extensions to make sure that everything is tracking the way that it needs to be.
JD Prater: Definitely. Well let's get into some advanced stuff. I saw you on Twitter. You were talking about some things that you got running. Walk us through some advanced conversion tracking that you've set up for clients that you think, "Hey, listeners should be knowing about this and implementing this."
Emma Franks: Yeah, for sure. Probably my favorite advanced conversion tracking ... I actually wrote a post about this on the Instapage blog about click triggered events. But this is something I use a lot for some of my clients that don't have really well developed sites yet. They don't have Thank You pages that are forms of redirecting to. Sometimes they don't even have a form on the site, and it's just phone numbers all over the place.
Emma Franks: I have one client that's trying to drive in-store traffic. They don't have forms. It's just, "you can give us a call", or mostly want you to "click for directions to get to our store". That's something that I've used, click triggered events to track both clicks to call, really easy button clicks, or really cool clicks to an external website. When the user clicks to go to Google Maps to find the directions, I can actually see that and track that through Google Tag Manager, which is really cool because that's not something that I could do with Google Analytics, since obviously my analytics tag isn't on Google Maps. Same thing with just any kind of link to an external site, being able to track that from the place where my codes are actually hosted.
JD Prater: Yeah. I've seen that one been used a lot. Like you said, that form. You know there's some forms, you're filling it out, you click Submit, and it just say, "Thank you for your response." Or, "Thank you," and it just changes.
On-click tracking for form submissions
Emma Franks: Auto refresh.
JD Prater: Yeah. It doesn't go to a new URL. That's what's really challenging.
JD Prater: In Google Analytics, it's really easy to say, "Hey, track this Thank You page as a goal." Same thing for Facebook, "Track this page URL as a goal." But what ends up happening is that someone pushes that button, you can now track it. I think that one is really cool for forms.
JD Prater: I've seen people do this for eCommerce too. I've seen people have Amazon stores. They'll click on the product, go to Amazon, but they want to know how many people clicked, "go to Amazon".
Emma Franks: Smart.
Click to call tracking and clicks to external websites
JD Prater: That's a good one as well. You had a great one. Click to external website, click to call. Talk to us a little bit about setting that up. You don't have to get in too much in the weeds, but what are some things that you have to really think through whenever you're setting it up?
Emma Franks: I think first and foremost would be making sure that you're having a unique identifier on the item that's being click. Either using a page URL to specify where you want that tracked, or in the case of click to call, if you have different phone numbers on different parts of your site, making sure that the click actually contains the phone number that you want to be tracking so that you can have those unique identifiers.
Emma Franks: Also I would say just spending a lot of time in the Preview Mode, to make sure that when you're clicking on the thing you want to fire a tag, it is firing, and it's not firing when you're clicking on other parts of the page. That's something that we can run into sometimes as well. The other thing with click triggered events that I like to be really careful of is making sure that the event only fires once per page.
Emma Franks: Sure that the event only fires once per page, especially if it is like you're saying an auto refresh form. If somebody clicks on it and maybe there was a required field that they didn't fill out and then they click it again, you don't want that to be registering as two separate conversions if it's really just one time they're submitting the form.
JD Prater: Right. Nice, good. Good I like that one. So, outside of a quick triggered events, what about some page view stuff? What have you got for us there?
Setting up page view tracking
Emma Franks: Yeah, so something that I've just recently started playing with is element visibility. So it started out as kind of a hack to be able to track a video on a page, get a video view conversion when we couldn't get the actual video trigger to work. And so we set it up that if this element is visible 100% on the page for the specified time of the video. Even if somebody isn't necessarily putting their eyes on the video, at least it's sort of something that we can use to track that engagement. As you mentioned, came up just a couple of days later on Twitter, trying to use time on a certain page of your website. So in analytics we can do time on site, but it doesn't let you necessarily get that granular. And so element visibility is a really cool trigger type that lets you see how long people are spending engaging either with your whole page, or just one individual element that you're concerned with on the page.
JD Prater: Yeah, define for us, for everyone that's listening, what is an element? Whenever you're thinking of like a webpage you're kind of scrolling down, what is an element?
Emma Franks: Yeah so the cool thing is that an element can really be any piece of the page that's visible. So it could be a button, it could be an image, it could be a chunk of text, it can be a URL, and there's a lot of freedom to be able to define that 'element' within Google Tag Manager, which is another thing that's really cool.
JD Prater: Yeah nice, it's like one of those things I don't think, some of us don't realize that, as you're going through a webpage, if you right-click, you can see page source. You can also right-click and Inspect Element. And so when you inspect the element, everything really has a name right, everything has been, and hopefully named well if you have a great web developer design team and has a very thought out process. So you can say, "Call this element name." And so I think that's something, for those starting out, it's a really great thing to get used to as a Google developer console, which is that Inspect Element piece of and understanding what it means to pull out that name and then put that in to ... When you're creating these page view type of event tracking, so good, good.
Emma Franks: Yeah, I'm so glad that you brought that up. And that kinda goes back to what I mentioned earlier about the unique identifiers. If you're dealing with a page maybe doesn't have really nicely named elements, that Inspect Element can be really helpful to try to find something unique about it that will let you tag that individual elements effectively.
JD Prater: Yeah, good call, good call on that one too. So we talked about some clicking tracking on a website, click to call, clicking to submit a form, talking about this element visibility, so this is really how long people are visiting a certain part of the website, for example like watching a video if you couldn't get the video to work as far as the tracking. So what are some super fancy stuff you got for us there as well you can do with some form stuff, I think it's pretty cool.
Tracking user segments across your website
Emma Franks: Well you might be able to talk to this a little bit too. I was at Hero Con 2017 in London, and there was a session that I am blanking right now on the name, you were there. But just talking about different user segments that you can create based on the user behavior and then pulling that into analytics and actually targeting those user segments differently. So if someone is engaging again with certain elements of your page, creating a custom audience based on those interactions, and retargeting them accordingly. From this past April in Hero Con Austin, I wasn't there but I did a lot of stalking on Twitter. And I found some cool insights about using Google Tag Manager to track when people are engaging with your form, even if they haven't submitted it. So being able to see which fields they started to fill out, even if they didn't submit the form. And just really, really deep interaction kind of thinking and really cool marketing insights that I think are available and supported by Tag Manager.
JD Prater: Yeah I think the one in London was from the Director of Analytics at Seer Interactive, and he came on the podcast and he talked to us a little bit about tracking, I'll link to that in the show notes. He came on the podcast and he talked to us about some of that stuff and it just blew my mind. His session was so good. And then even the Austin, there was some really great stuff. So really thinking about the way that it used to be, so the way it used to be, you have a URL, let's say it's a download for a white paper. And then you have a thank you page. And you're finding that delta, and you're saying, "Target these people." As like a remarketing list. Well what this is doing is going, even like a step more granular. It's not only, did you visit this page, but did you even start to fill out the form and then didn't complete it, right? And so now it's a slightly different message, or maybe it's a better intent audience and really thinking through what that could look like for your own type of targeting, and you own audiences that you're building, and to remarket to.
JD Prater: So I thought that one was really cool. And then even what you were saying, disengaging with certain elements. That's really cool and being able to say, "Hey you visited this but you didn't visit this, here's this." Right, and you can create a scoring based off of actual behaviors, rather than trying to guess. Like "Last 30 days, everyone that's been to the website." Type of audiences.
Emma Franks: Yeah, and I found some cool things that can do even ... I know this is the PPC Show, but if there are any SEO folks out there or people that work with CRO, cool things that you can do with GTM to get your website into a better place. And if you don't have money or the tools to do dynamic website ... I'm blanking again.
JD Prater: Optimization?
Emma Franks: But just actually being able to dynamically adjust your website based on the users that are coming to it and how they've tagged previously. So I'll send you that link to put in the show notes.
JD Prater: Yeah that's a really good one too. And some things that are right out of the box that I think you guys can easily install too. So they have like scrolling tracking. Have you implemented any scroll tracking before?
Emma Franks: I haven't, but I should.
JD Prater: Yeah. It's an easy one right? So they literally have it built in for you, as like a right out of the box, here it is. And you can just hit it and then you select your trigger for like, maybe it's all pages. And now you'll be able to see scrolling in the deep vaults like 25, 50, 75, 100. You can just see, how many people have scrolled, made it down all the way to a webpage, right?
Emma Franks: Nice.
JD Prater: Or you can see where people are stopping. A what x percent made it down to 50%, so maybe I need to put my CTA in the top third so more people see it, right.
Emma Franks: Yeah.
JD Prater: There's some really cool stuff you can really deduce from there, and it's one that's right out of ... You know, you don't have to do any special code, you just literally select it. It's pretty cool.
Emma Franks: That's really cool for top of funnel content too. Like maybe I'm a really slow reader and it takes me longer to get to the bottom of the page that someone who can read it in half the time. Maybe they're not being counted as a conversion because they manage to get through that whole blog post in less than five minutes, or whatever that time allocation is.
JD Prater: Yeah, I would love an average time on site of five minutes on our blog, so. That would be good. No, but so we've talked about some really cool stuff about why people should be using it. Some conversion tracking stuff, some advanced conversion tracking. You know this is coming, what are some struggles? You know people are gonna have some trouble. What are some things that are easy for us to talk about that we know everyone's gonna at least have this problem and we can help them out?
Emma Franks: Definitely. I think the biggest struggle with GTM in the PPC community, is just that it's not talked about enough. I think even you were saying you went through so long in your PPC career before really getting into Tag Manager. And I think that that can make it seem really intimidating, and it also makes it hard to know where to turn when you have questions. And what resources are out there to help you when you are first getting into it, or when you're trying something new. Aside from that, I think there is an element of technical skill that you have to learn. So, like you mentioned with that right-clicking and hitting Inspect Element. That's something that was totally foreign to me before I started working in Tag Manager. And it took a little while to get comfortable with looking through that code and fortunately I'd done one of those HTML courses, and I kind of could understand the language. But if you're not exposed to that ever, it takes a little bit of time and effort to get comfortable navigating that technical aspect. But I think that, that said, there ... It seems like there are.
Emma Franks: That said, it seems like there are more and more resources coming out relating to Tag Manager in PPC. So hopefully we'll be able to turn that around a little bit and get more of the community to embrace it.
JD Prater: Yeah, and I really see a couple of trends that are kinda happening within this, right? I think one of them is rise of the technical marketer, right? And we did a BBC show about this as well, and I'd love to get your thoughts on that one. And I think the other part of that too is marketers have more data at their fingertips than ever before, which is a good thing and a bad thing, right? Because now you have to sift through more. You have to really glean those insights, but then we're also kind of the third trend is really this idea of being held to deeper funnel metrics, right? It's no longer just leads or enough, right? We have to go deeper within that, and so would love to get your thoughts on like technical marketing with so much data and going deeper. Like what do you think about all that?
Emma Franks: Yeah. I was just thinking as you're talking, it feels like more and more it's coming down to the ability to develop a strategy, so as you said, there's so much data at our fingertips, but really the skill and the value that we provide is knowing how to use that data, knowing what data even to pursue and to really look into. And I think more and more we're going to see that even just with something like Tag Manager, you're going to start to develop a strategy behind your Tag Manager use and, what tags are we putting in, and why. And having a strategy behind all of those decisions rather than just, well, it's something that we can do, so why not do it. And I think as we get into more of this age of technical marketing, that's going to be showing up more and more, and that's what's going to be really valuable in our careers is being able to make that call and talk to it.
JD Prater: Yeah, that's a good point. Just because you have access to the data, or you can measure it, doesn't mean you need to. It happens all the time. I see it too often within my own world here in house. But even, I'm sure you feel agency side as well.
Emma Franks: Yep. And even, we're data nerds, so having that data is awesome and there are times when we get cool insights from it, but also knowing when to keep those to yourself a little bit, and when to take it to your client or to your superior rather than just wrapping it up with your recommendations.
JD Prater: Nice. Nice. Well, let's kind of like wrap up and talk about some of the stuff around maybe favorite things about GTM's, or do you have a wishlist?
Emma Franks: Oh boy. I guess one of my wishlist items would be a direct integration with Facebook. I know that's a lot from good will, but a lot of what we do is that custom tag implementation like you talked about at the beginning. There's a lot of potential for GTM to really help out paid social. Right now, we've just finished implementing some kind of different audiences based on where users are in the funnel, using some of these things that we've talked about. And not having to do all of that manually with a snippet of code for each individual audience would be great.
JD Prater: Yeah, I can definitely feel you on that one. It's not only, I mean Facebook would be great, but think about every other network that has a pixel, right? I mean it's like everyone has their own pixel. I mean Cora, right? They have their own conversion tracking pixel on. It's like, okay, well I've got to get that one on there too. So yeah, I definitely I liked that one. So any other things that you would want to recommend to the listeners?
Emma Franks: Mostly I would just say if you don't have Tag Manager you should get it. Even if it's just like my own personal account, I'd just sign up for Tag Manager. I mean if you have a Gmail account and you can just log right into the Tag Manager. It's free, free to use. If none of your clients are using it right now, or if you're in house and you're not using it, just play around. Explore it, get in there, have some fun. It can be a little intimidating, but you're not gonna mess anything up just playing with the tags and playing with the triggers. So, yeah let yourself have some fun.
JD Prater: Yeah. Then we'll kinda wrap up here. So let's actually talk about like analyzing these events. So where do you go to find out how they're working? Ad you know, how they're performing?
Emma Franks: Yeah. So, before you even actually like publish or implement it, I love, as I said, using the preview pane which just takes you right to your website as if the tags and everything were already published, were already live. You can see what's working and what's not. You can actually see just clicking around your website, what sort of variables or events are getting triggered, even if you haven't associated any tags with them. Once you do actually have it published or implemented, we tie most all of our tags to some kind of conversion tracking, and whether that's in GA or Facebook, and those will typically tell you if a tag is active. There's also a bunch of extensions that you can use. I just found out today there's an extension you can use even if the Tag Manager code hasn't been implemented on your site. You can have this, I think it's just like Tag Manager injection or something Open up that extension. You can use the preview pane as if the Tag Manager code was already active, and that lets you work out all of the kinks for your tracking, even while you're waiting for Webdev to get the code implemented. And then they say, hey, it's ready, and you say, we already have everything set up.
JD Prater: Nice. Nice. And so the one last thing I'll kind of leave everyone with as a good tip is, these events as well. So if they are like Google related events you can be able to track those in Google Analytics. And so on your left hand side, go down to behavior and then go down into your actual events, and you can actually see how these are working. And then always a bonus, you can create a goal based off of an event, right? So like Emma was saying, with these click to form fills, right? You can make that a goal once that's an event. So get it set up as an event in GTM and then create a goal and go Google Analytics and then you can track those form fills that way.
Creating goals in Google Analytics based off GTM events
Emma Franks: Yep. And the cool thing is you can actually use those same events to track in Bing as well. So you have kind of a single setup step to get two different tags running.
JD Prater: Nice. All right, that's all I've got. Anything you want to leave the audience with?
Emma Franks: Just if you have any other questions, you can always tweet at me just Aka Emma Louise. I'm on Twitter more than I like to admit, so hit me up. And thanks so much for having me, JD.
JD Prater: No, thank you for coming on and talking to us about Google Tag Manager. It's always a fun conversation as I like to geek out on it as well, so. All right everyone, thanks for listening to the podcast. I hope you guys are having a great day, and gonna take this information and go play around with some Google Tag Manager, at least set it up, or at least get in there and start testing your own tags, and testing your own triggers. Until next week, we'll see you then.